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Commissioner Johansson opening remarks at the press conference to launch the action plan on Integration and Inclusion

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 24 november 2020.

Integration and inclusion is an investment, in a more resilient society, socially and economically.

Today, around 34 million, 8%, of us living in the EU were born in a country outside the EU. Every tenth of the young people born here have one or two foreign-born parents. It means migrants are already part of “us”, there is no “them”.

Migrants are diverse. They have different backgrounds, past experiences, and aspirations for the future. However, migrants still face similar challenges in terms of employment, access to education, healthcare and social inclusion. Many experience discrimination. It can still be an obstacle to have a family name that is not common in the country you live in.

So we need to work harder on integration and inclusion.

This is not done by legislation from Brussels. You are not integrated in the EU as such - but in the local society where you live. By having a job to go to, your children in school, being part of the local church, the choir, the football team.

The EU and the commission is there to support by proposing, coordinate and fund initiatives and actions. In the Action Plan for Integration and inclusion 2021-2027 - that we present today - there 60 actions in four areas:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Health
  • Housing

I'll start with employment and labour market, since this is the ground for integration. The best way into society is to have a job, to earn your own money, to meet co-workers, to be needed. For children it is important to see parents go to work.

So we will:

  • Work with social and economic partners to promote a multi-stakeholder approach to labour market integration.
  • Support employers through exchanges and peer-to-peer learning.
  • Provide support for inclusive entrepreneurship under InvestEU for women and men, including migrant entrepreneurs and foster inclusive mentoring schemes.
  • Facilitate assessment and validation of skills through: sharing and scaling up practices on skills assessment (through the European Integration Network, the European Network of Public Employment Service and the updated Europass platform.)

The importance of companies seeing the possibilities on hiring people with different backgrounds cannot be overestimated. Some companies are very good at this, often with the CEO from the highest level recognizing the importance for the future of the company, sending this message through the whole organization.

On Education

We want to improve participation and achievement through for ex:

  • a new toolkit with practical guidance on inclusion in Early Childhood Education, ECEC, to be published at the beginning of 2021
  • targeted support for teachers to develop competences for dealing with cultural, religious and linguistic diversity in classrooms under the Erasmus Teacher Academies;
  • Work with Members States to further develop comprehensive and accessible language learning programmes
  • Promote exchanges between Member States on providing complementary / bridging courses for migrants
  • Faster and more efficient recognition of qualifications. We will use the Erasmus+ programme to recognise qualification of refugees by credential evaluators specifically trained to do that.

Health

Migrants are confronted with specific barriers to accessing healthcare services, including administrative hurdles, fears linked to uncertainties about the duration of their stay, discrimination, lack of information, and linguistic and intercultural obstacles. Migrant women face additional challenges as they tend to have lower proficiency in the host country language, weaker social networks, and greater responsibilities for childcare and family.

We will promote access to health care services for migrants through, among other things:

  • Funding dedicated projects under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund
  • Support and promote exchanges between Member States on: prevention and health promotion programmes specifically targeting migrants

Housing

In this area we want to work with Member States to promote non-segregated adequate and affordable housing, including social housing, and to provide accompanying integration services through EU funds

Promote mutual learning between Member States, cities, villages and regions on fighting discrimination on the housing market and reducing residential segregation through the European Integration Network, the Urban academy for integration and dedicated funding under the Asylum and Migration Fund.

Promote models of autonomous housing (rather than collective housing) for asylum applicants, especially families, and disseminate and scale up successful innovative models of inclusive and affordable housing for beneficiaries of international protection.

That in short is the action plan for integration and inclusion.

It is a series of EU measures that allows the EU to point the way, and urge Member States to follow.

Of course, Inclusive integration is a two way street. It is about giving opportunities to migrants but also about migrants taking responsibility. It takes two to tango, and expectations must go both ways, everyone have rights and everyone have obligations.

The Action plan is realistic, based on continuous listen, feedback, improvement and assessment.

In this case including a ‘midterm' report in 2024.

It includes an expert group on migration and a group of migrants who have expert views on their lived experience.

During the pandemic, we have seen migrant doctors and nurses, asylum seekers and refugees with medical qualifications, fighting the virus, doing front line work. 13 per cent of key workers are born outside their Member State. Society will stop without them.

I have tried to remain positive because the Action Plan is that.

But we cannot talk about inclusive integration if we don't talk about racism.

I fully intend to make sure that this proposal works very closely with our anti-racism action plan released earlier this autumn.


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